Why, oh why, then do we consistently offer Him art that is, to put it bluntly, junk?
Why do we think that music that is dull and overly simple is what is best for inspiring our hearts to worship? Why do we think that literature that is bland and is bad storytelling will turn our minds toward thoughts of God? Why do we think that art that is commercialized and overly sentimental will cause our imaginations to soar to the heavens?
Perhaps this is harsh. I will fully admit that there are artists (in the full sense of the word) out there who inspire awe in the hearts of all those who come across it. But this is not the norm. Not anymore, that is.
It used to be that Christians artists were at the top of their craft. They were respected and admired throughout the world. Think Bach. Think Correggio. Think Milton and Tolstoy.
It is not this way anymore. The secular world no longer looks up to Christian art to lead the way. Instead it sneers at Christian art and views it as subpar, something to be shunned rather than something to inspire.
To paraphrase James: my brothers, this should not be! The lack of excellence in our art indicates to the world that we serve a God who is less than excellent.
Much so-called religious art is in fact bad art, and therefore bad religion. ~ Madeleine L’Engle
Oh, we could do so much better. We could open ourselves up to the power of the Holy Spirit rather than to the power of the market.
Fellow artists, let God inspire you. Open yourself to that which you cannot control. Ignore the sale; ignore what you think people want. Listen instead to the Spirit. Listen to what God is showing you through your work: “my proper place is as a servant struggling to be faithful to the work, the work which slowly and gently tries to teach me some of what it knows.” (L’Engle)
Let your art sing. Let it soar.
Those who are not artists, be discerning. If it is good art, if it inspires you and sets your imagination soaring toward God, then support it. If it is bad art, don’t support and sustain it simply because it involved the name or image of Christ.
I know that my words do not reach many, but I dream of a day when those who claim to follow a God of beauty and excellence are once again those who produce that art which leads the entire world in soaring to the heights, are once again those who produce the art which therefore points the way to God.